Bottoms up in Jerusalem

What’s on tap in the capital: Guy and Yahel will perform at the 10th edition of the Beer Festival.

Guy Mentsch (right) and Yahel Doron will perform at the 10th annual Jerusalem Beer Festival. (photo credit: NOAM YOSEF)
Guy Mentsch (right) and Yahel Doron will perform at the 10th annual Jerusalem Beer Festival.
(photo credit: NOAM YOSEF)
If you’re going to work together, nay create together, it makes good sense to know where each other is coming from. In that respect, Guy Mensch and Yahel Doron have a head start on most songwriting teams.
The two 29-year-old pop-rock musicians will perform at the 10th edition of the annual Beer Festival, taking place at Jerusalem’s Independence Park on August 27 and 28.
Mensch and Doron, who perform and record as Guy and Yahel, have been buddies since the age of 12 when both attended the Hadassim youth village and boarding school. Mensch had been at the village for a while before Doron got there, although the latter’s older brother was already a student there and was instrumental in Doron and Mensch getting together.
Doron plays guitar and sings and, at the time, Mensch mostly focused on drumming. Today, Mensch confines himself to singing but says his percussive past stands him in good stead. “I don’t know if I am consciously aware of my drumming ability when I sing,” he says, “but I think it helps me when we get to the production stage, and it gives me a better idea of rhythmic patterns and grooves.”
“We clicked from the word go,” Doron recalls of the pair’s time at Hadassim. “I got out my guitar and Guy got behind his drums, and off we went.”
And the rest is history. The two continued to play and sing together throughout their high-school days, and although their paths split in the army, they stayed in touch and renewed their joint creative exploits after being demobbed.
Interestingly, the duo’s first album was all in English.
Going by the name of Revel Day, it came out in 2011. “We wanted to see if we could get our stuff out there, to the outside world,” explains Mensch, adding that the same goes for the duo’s Hebrew numbers. “There is something of the flavor and musicality [of the international market] in all of our work.”
Even so, it’s one thing to pop over to London for a week and get by with basic English, and another thing entirely to write songs in a foreign language. “That’s true,” says Doron, “but we listen to a lot of music in English. Our English really comes from the songs we know.”
The duo feeds off a wide range of influences. “We hear so much music,” says Mensch. “We come from ’90s rock and [early ’70s] glam rock, and a bit of jazz and blues. We listen to the really big groups like [seminal American hard rock-heavy metal band] Guns N’ Roses and [pioneering American heavy metal group] Metallica.”
That’s quite a disparate influence spectrum. “Yes it is, and it grows all the time,” notes Mensch. “There’s so much great music out there.”
Surprisingly, despite already being bona fide members of the national entertainment circuit, Mensch and Doron opted to try their luck on TV talent show The Voice, making it through several rounds under the tutelage of rock and pop star Aviv Geffen. “If we’d stuck with Revel Day and not done The Voice, and then recorded material in Hebrew, we would have stayed as a sort of cool Tel Aviv-based indie band – but nothing more than that,” says Mensch, “regardless of how much we pressed the distortion button.”
In fact, the duo’s appearance on the TV show offered them a kind of closure; the first hit they covered was Geffen number “Or Hayareah” (Moonlight). “It was nice to work with Aviv, after performing that song,” notes Doron, “and he was always one of our idols.”
Although they didn’t make it to the finals, Doron feels they made the right decision to take part in The Voice. “You could say we achieved everything we’d hoped for from the show. We progressed in the show, and we got a lot of exposure.”
The two get along well. Seventeen years together is longer than many marriages last, and they have clearly found a way to navigate their partnership to avoid potentially damaging collisions. “Each of us brings his writing to the table, and we manage to find compromises if we have to,” Doron explains. “Yes, we have arguments too, but I think we have arrived at a good modus vivendi.”
Mensch feels he and Doron have made good progress over the years. Their first selftitled Hebrew-language album came out last year, and they are currently working on their third release. “We are getting closer to the sound we want,” says Mensch. “And we are having a lot of fun.”
The public is also sure to have a good time at the Beer Festival. The entertainment roster includes the Hayehudim hard rock band, which recently put out a new single, the group’s first offering for seven years. Veteran rocker Rami Fortis is also on the bill, and there will be a slew of DJs from Israel and abroad on hand to keep the audience grooving.
Of course, there will be no shortage of liquid refreshment on offer over the two days, with no fewer than 150 varieties of beer available. The menu will include a large number of locally produced boutique brews, as well as foreign beers making a rare appearance in this country.
“It is no secret that the Israeli beer industry is experiencing constant growth, and I am delighted to see the number of both locally produced and imported beers at the festival increases every year,” says festival producer Eli Giladi. “We want to make the Beer Festival a truly international event and I hope, in years to come, it will attract large number of tourists from abroad as well.”
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